A team of researchers is fascinated by the remains of an ancient bird with an unusual feature: its middle toes are longer than the lower legs. The fossil was recovered from an amber deposit in Myanmar.
The elongated toe has been compared to those observed in the case of tree-climbing lizards and lemurs, and it infers that some of the early bird types may have had an exciting lifestyle. One of the researchers who examined the fossil stated that it was unlike any other specimens which were observed in the past.
The uniqueness of the foot encouraged the researchers to deem the bird, whose size may have been on par with gat of a sparrow, a new species. It was named Elektorornis chenguangy and the first word in the name can be translated as an amber bird. It is the most ancient bird species to be found in an amber deposit.
Ancient Bird Fossil Fascinates Researchers
Scientific measurements have shown that the third toe out of four is up to 20 percent longer in comparison to the lower leg bone and 41 percent when compared with the second toe. The new species was compared with the aye-aye, a type of lemur which uses an elongated as a tool which helps it to collect larvae and insects from tree trunks. It is believed that Elektorornis may have used its elongated toes for the same purpose.
It may have spent most of its life up in the trees, developing the specialized toes to facilitate its stability on three branches. The toes may have been accompanying by sharp teeth and a set of wings which also featured dangerous claws. The position of the fossil also suggests that it may have lived in a mangrove forest located close to the sea.
The fossil was recovered in 2014, and at first, it was thought it might have belonged to a lizard, but further tests showed that it was the foot of a bird. The results were collected in a study which was recently published in a scientific journal.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.